Unit One Lesson 7 WHAT BASIC IDEAS ABOUT GOVERNMENT AND RIGHTS DID T H E S T A T E C O N S T I T U TI O N S INCLUDE Status of colonies after the Declaration of Independence Colonies were “Free and Independent States” 2nd Continental Congress called on all states to rewrite their constitutions Most stuck to their pre-independence patterns but made important modifications Natural Rights, Rule of Law, Republicanism and constitutional government were included in all Basic Ideas included in state constitutions Higher Law and Natural Rights State constitution was the higher law and the constitution placed limits on governmental power Purpose of the government was to protect citizens’ natural rights of live, liberty and property Social Contract Agreement among the people to create a government to protect natural rights as expressed in the preamble or bill of rights Popular Sovereignty Ultimate power to govern rests with the people Representative Government and the Right to Vote Representatives elected by “qualified” voters (70% of white men) Annual elections were set In 7 states, Freed African American and Native Americans could vote if they met the property owning requirements Basic Ideas included in state constitutions Legislative Supremacy Strong Legislatures elected by the people (distrust of executive power) Principle of majority rules Idea of Legislative Supremacy based on Most capable branch or reflecting the will of the people Voters determine their representatives (and can remove them) Executive Branch less accountable to the people and thus less trusted Judges less accountable to the people so less trusted • Some states made judges stand for election • Some states gave judicial functions to the legislative branch Critical Thinking Exercise John Locke and some other natural rights philosophers believed that in a representative government the legislative branch should be supreme because it is the branch CLOSEST to the people and reflects the wishes of the people. Accordingly, the legislative branch is the least likely to violate the people’s rights. Most of the early state constitutions reflected Locke’s view and weighted the balance of governmental power in favor of their legislatures 1. Do you agree with Locke’s argument for the supremacy of legislative power? WHY or WHY NOT 2. Does the legislative branch necessarily reflect the people’s will? Explain your response. 3. What might a government be like in which the executive or judicial branch was supreme rather than the legislature? Examples of Legislative Supremacy Executive Branches were weak and dependent on the Legislative Branch Governors had short terms in office (often one year) Appointments by the Governor had to be approved by the Legislature Governors had little or no legislative power (limited veto) Checks and Balances on legislative power Bicameral legislatures Governor’s veto Voters could elect new representatives Massachusetts constitution differs John Adams (2nd President) wrote Popular Sovereignty Strong system of SEPARATION OF POWERS and CHECKS AND BALANCES Governor had effective checks on Legislative Branch Judges terms based on good behavior not term limits 2 Key Differences Strong Executive Governor’s salary fixed, could not be changed by legislature Governor had power to revise laws (could be overridden) Governor had power to appoint many officials in exec. and jud. branch Representation of various economic classes Those with large land holding voted for governor Those with fair land holdings voted for upper house Those with small land holdings voted for lower house What were the State Declaration of Rights Preamble and/or Bill of Rights stated rights of the inhabitants of their state Lists of rights varied but were based on the idea that people have certain inherent rights that must be protected from governmental interference Without these rights WRITTEN into the responsibilities of the government, the government would be more likely to abuse their power and try to limit these rights What Rights did other states protect? Most states adopted something similar to Virginia either in the body of the constitution or in a specific bill of rights Most included The right to vote Free and frequent elections The right to petition the government for redress of grievances No taxation without representation DUE PROCESS Right to Counsel and Trial by a Jury of One’s Peers Protection from illegal searches and seizures Protections from self-incrimination Protections from excessive bail and fines Protections from cruel and unusual punishment Most feared a military tyranny: “well regulated civilian militia” Important ideas in the Virginia Declaration of Rights Expressed the peoples’ understanding of the fundamental, inalienable rights and the idea that people create government to protect those rights James Madison and George Mason on committee that wrote up this list. Will influence Madison’s writing of the US Bill of Rights All men are by nature created equal and independent and have rights All power is derived from and kept by the people Government is instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people, nation, or community If the government does not serve these purposes, the people have the right to alter or abolish it All men are entitled to the free exercise of religion Virginia Declaration of Rights “No free government, or the blessing of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles …It is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity, towards each other.” Short Answer Topics Lesson One: Hobbes and Locke Lesson Two: Natural Rights Lesson Three: Class system in England Lesson Four: Documents of Change Lesson Five: Rights in the Colonies Lesson Six: Declaration of Independence Lesson Seven: Rights in the new states Unit One Essays How did both classical republicans and the natural rights philosophers influence the Founders’ views about government? What are the essential differences between classical republicanism and natural rights philosophy? Why do both classical republicans and natural rights philosophers stress the need for education and preparation for citizenship? What are the fundamental characteristics of a constitutional government? In what ways does constitutional government mean limited government? Describe at least three provisions of the Constitution that provide a means of preventing the abuse or misuse of governmental power. Explain how these provisions work in our system of government today. What effect did colonial experiences have on the Founders’ views about rights and government? In what ways were 18th century American and British societies similar or dissimilar in terms of the rights of individual liberty, equality of opportunity, and property? How did early state constitution reflect colonial experiences as well as the ides of classical republicanism and natural rights philosophy?